Religion Today Summaries - March 1, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 1, 2005

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:

  • 'The Passion Recut' Contains Less Violence

  • 500,000 Teens Taste Hunger to Fight Hunger

  • U.S. Ministry Helps Restore Tsunami Survivors' Livelihoods 

  • Wright, Crossan To Debate Resurrection At New Orleans Seminary March 11-12

'The Passion Recut' Contains Less Violence
Erin Curry, Baptist Press

In an effort to appeal to a wider audience including those kept from viewing The Passion of The Christ because of its depictions of brutal violence, Mel Gibson is releasing a tamer version of the film March 11 called The Passion Recut. Gibson has edited at least six minutes out of the original film and is substituting different camera angles to show less blood and gore in the graphic scenes of the torture, scourge and crucifixion of Christ, according to The Dallas Morning News. The subtle changes will emphasize the sacrifice of Jesus rather than just the suffering, he told the newspaper. Even with less violence, the MPAA still gave the new Passion version an R rating. The film's production company, Icon Productions, has opted to release The Passion Recut without a rating. The Passion Recut will be carried in theaters on 500 to 750 screens nationwide beginning just before Easter. Film critic Michael Medved said the Academy shut out one of the year's biggest box office hits and instead nominated for the major categories a list of films that "went out of their way to assault or insult the sensibilities of most believers," notably Million Dollar Baby with its portrayal of assisted suicide as heroic and Kinsey in its depiction of sexuality without limits.

500,000 Teens Taste Hunger to Fight Hunger
World Vision

During the Oscars broadcast this past weekend, advertisers paid $1.6 million for 30 seconds of commercial time. Meanwhile, during each 30 second commercial, 10 children will have died from hunger and other preventable diseases. For the price of one "goodie bag" distributed to the celebrities at this year's Academy Awards - valued at more than $20,000 - 56 starving children would have enough food to eat for a full year. In its 13th year, World Vision's "30 Hour Famine" was held Feb. 25 and 26.  One-half million motivated teens set a goal of raising $13.5 million - through donations and sponsors from family, friends, and neighbors - to fight the problem of worldwide hunger. During their 30 hours of fasting, they learned about the 29,000 children who die each day from hunger and preventable diseases and they will engage in service work in their own communities including working in homeless shelters and conducting food drives. The record-breaking $11.4 million raised last year prompted this year's goal of $13.5 million. Funds raised from this year's "Famine" will fight hunger and poverty in Kenya, Sudan, Chad, Southeast Asia and elsewhere. (

U.S. Ministry Helps Restore Tsunami Survivors' Livelihoods
Allie Martin, AgapePress

The Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse is helping provide new jobs for thousands hit hard by December's tsunami in south Asia. Workers from the ministry have been involved in the disaster response and recovery efforts from the outset. While initial tsunami relief efforts focused on meeting the needs of displaced and devastated victims -- necessities such as shelter, food, water, blankets and medical kits -- Samaritan's Purse is now focusing on the survivors' long-term needs. For instance, according to ministry spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht, an effort is under way to provide a thousand fishing boats to needy families in southern Asia. He says several hundred boats will be distributed in each of the countries in the tsunami disaster zone, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and India, where the ministry has been at work. "This will not only give the boat makers business," Giesbrecht notes, "but it will also give business to the people who make nets for a living. And ultimately, of course, it's going to benefit the fisherman -- maybe five or six men that would be out on each boat -- and their families." The Samaritan's Purse representative says the ministry will be providing enough fishing boats to put up to 8,000 people back to work.

Wright, Crossan To Debate Resurrection At New Orleans Seminary March 11-12
Gary D. Myers, Baptist Press

Did the resurrection of Jesus really happen? For the students and faculty members at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the answer is a resounding "Yes!" But skeptics in American and European culture continue to keep the debate over this crucial event as intense as ever. N.T. Wright and John Dominic Crossan will address this issue as the first participants in the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum: Exploring the Tension of Faith and Culture, set for March 11-12 on the NOBTS campus, featuring the topic, "The Resurrection: Historical Fact or Theological Invention?" The annual southwest regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society is being held in conjunction with the forum. Wright, a prominent evangelical scholar and Bishop of Durham, England, has been a refreshing voice in the debate about the resurrection. A prolific author, Wright passionately argues for the historicity of the biblical accounts of Jesus' resurrection. Crossan, on the other hand, is a member of the controversial Jesus Seminar, a group that considers less than 20 percent of the New Testament as historically reliable. Crossan's belief is that the biblical account of the resurrection is a theological interpretation of the events surrounding Jesus' death rather that a factual one. Cost for the event is $20 per person, with a student rate of $10 per person and a Southern Baptist ministerial rate of $10.